mi ani? ma ani?

like my people, my

thoughts
poems
head
love
history

all are scattered.

and now that my matriarch is dead,

what
where
who

am i?

why did you leave me like this?
i don’t feel ready.

ahava

from now on, whenever a hebrew or yiddish word bubbles up into my heart, I will not allow myself to suppress it like I shamefully do my tears

I will let my lost languages, mame loshn, the tongues that put me in the skin of my ancestors, I will let those words burst out of my chest like fire

I will let them burn the skin of anyone who shames me for speaking a language i hold on to

languages too heavy for me to carry, the diaspora has made my arms weak but I will not let go.

i want to talk to g-d

i want to talk to g-d but loshn kodesh – the language that g-d speaks – hits my heart without passing through my ears.

i want to talk to my ancestors but mame loshn draws more laughs in this place than smiles of recognition.

i ache to speak the languages of my people, languages that taste like the desert and ghettoes, sand and glass, fire and resilience, but instead i speak common tongues like english and french and latin – i feel like crying because they are familiar in a way that my own languages may never be.

what does diasporic sorrow feel like?

what does diasporic sorrow feel like?

it feels like my chest tightening with tears i’m not sure i’ll shed. my throat hurts, a lump is trying to escape from it.

it feels like my body tensing up in wait. i still don’t know what i’m waiting for.

it feels like a constant buzz of anxiety. like the kind i get when i don’t know if i’ve locked my front door, except there’s no home to go to at the end of the day to check.

it feels like the desert. hot. dry. my eyes sting like when sand gets in them.

it feels like confusion. like in the cartoons i used to watch, with a question mark flitting around my head. i can’t even express what i’m confused about, half the time.

it feels like the burst of sadness when i realize that the language my mother spoke to me as a child isn’t a made-up language after all. it’s the language of my people. it’s a language we all used to speak.

it feels like the frustration when my siblings and friends and i share pieces of our histories with each other, trying to make pieces of different puzzles fit together as one. none of us were born complete.

it feels like i am constantly justifying why i am, where i am, who i am, what i am. to the point where i question my own truth.

it feels like it will never get better. i will never know anything.

it feels like i will feel this way forever.

most of us always have, anyway.

passover [submission]

passover (poem) [submission from hamletrash.tumblr.com]

remember when your skin first felt like a

disease, like every pore if you squeezed it

would spit cold cyanide

remember when you were a slave in the house of bondage

remember the blood on your thighs. remember

the plague of boils, the plague of blood,

the plague of cattle disease

(you used to have a toy a

cow with a button on its foot

push the button and its joints buckled

and collapsed)

pretending as you

scrubbed your sheets

that this was the blood of a man you’d killed

remember that spring when god peeled your skin off and ate it like bread

the terror of how your zipped coat

looked when you sat down

the waves and bubbles the zipper made.

like eve under trees

the sudden alien weight of her body

this is the bread of affliction

god spits blood in the river, god

whispers into your bed

kisses your neck full of boils

god in a breath of lice that squirm through

your firstborn’s hair

god bound between your eyes and

upon the doorposts of your houses

god’s blood in the nile

lamb’s blood on the door

cows’ blood in the fields

your blood in the sink

stick your smallest finger in the wine

she said to find my element…

my element is smoke.

dirty, captivating, floating, dissolving… choking.

my punishment is ephemerality, impermanence.

i am fascinated by the macabre

and also terrified.

my penance is letting go –

i self-sabotage and end up in purgatory.

there’s a smoke machine manned by spirits smoking cigarettes that smell unfamiliar – that one: a cigar.

my job, they say, is to clean the air by breathing:

it gives me anxiety and

the spirits shape-shift into various things they know unsettle me

so i name them Puck 6, Puck 2, Puck 5/

my least favourite small numbers.

when i get out of here, i will take up smoking again.

i will blow smoke in the face of everyone i see

and end up back where i came from –

unless i decide to change.

which i might.

take heart

In times of sorrow, take heart, even

though you stand at deaths door: the

candle flares up before it dies,

and wounded lions roar.

  • Samuel Ibn Naghrila/ Samuel haNagid